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Older women should be given free IVF, health experts urge

Women over 40 should be offered fertility treatment on the NHS to avoid age discrimination

Posted: 28 June 2010
by Kyrsty Hazell
Free IVF for women over 40 - is it right?
Free IVF for women over 40 - is it right?

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is considering expanding the age limit on free IVF treatment from 39 to 40 plus. This will give older mums with viable eggs a chance to conceive.

NICE has declared women aged 40 plus will not be turned away based on age restrictions. Instead, they will be granted IVF treatment based on how many healthy eggs they produce or on their ‘ovarian reserve’.

The health association is also aware that it could be breaking age discrimination rules by cutting the age limit off at 39. However this could mean that younger women who don’t meet the viable egg requirement could be denied free treatment. The current guidelines offer free treatment to women aged between 23 and 39, for up to three cycles of IVF.

This idea has caused a debate amongst fertility groups with some thinking it is a fair move, while others believe it’s a waste of money.

“I think measuring ovarian reserve is a better way to make rational decisions than age,” Clare Lewis-Jones from the Infertility Network has said.

However, others disagree. “If you have to make decisions about rationing, age is a pretty good predictor of outcomes. Doing specialist tests is a very expensive way of trying to make the system fair,” says Alison McTavish from the British Fertility Society.

Do you think 40+ women should be given free IVF?

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